[Pre-1900] Drawing on a wide range of primary materials, and taking advantage of the ease of visiting the sites of many of the topics we study, this course offers an introduction to American Studies through an exploration of the Connecticut River Valley that stresses both the fascination of detailed local history and the economic, political, social, and cultural networks that tie this place to the world. Topics may include conflicts and accommodations between Native peoples and English settlers; changing uses of land and resources; seventeenth-century witchcraft trials; the American Revolution and Shays rebellion; religious revivalism of the Great Awakening; abolitionist and other nineteenth-century reform movements; tourism and the scenic including Thomas Cole's famous painting of the oxbow; immigration, industrialization and deindustrialization, especially in the cities of Holyoke and Springfield; educational institutions and innovations; the Cold War, the reach of the "military industrial complex" into local educational institutions, and "the bunker"; the sanctuary movement; feminist and gay activism; present environmental, mass incarceration, and other social equity issues; and of course, Emily Dickinson's poetry.
Limited to 20 students per section. 8 seats per section reserved for first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Professors Couvares and Vigil.Other years: Offered in Fall 2023
(Offered as AMST 130 and BLST 130) The hustle and flow of bodies, ideas, inequalities and solidarities is core to our increasingly globalized world. This course offers an introduction to the Americas as a transnational space. We will explore the interplay of race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and nationality from interdisciplinary perspectives. We will draw examples from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Students will learn through a variety of methods including textual analysis, feminist ethnography, archival research, and cultural studies. We will also examine multiple approaches to American Studies such as critical race and ethnic studies, feminist and queer studies, indigenous studies, as well as theories of decolonization and settler colonialism. We will grapple with the complexities of identity and difference, immigration and border control, slavery, colonization, and empire.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly and Professor Schmalzbauer.Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Fall 2023
(Offered as AMST 140 and LJST 140) While discussions of white supremacy are more common now than even a few years ago, the image of the United States as a nation of immigrants remains popular. How can we connect these two notions, that on the one hand the country was founded on and practices a settler colonialism and racial capitalism that privileges whites, with that on the other hand many immigrants of color are working towards their American Dream? Through sociological and historical texts, the course will interrogate what is behind immigration to the United States, including the nation’s imperial and neocolonial interventions abroad that have created the foundation for much displacement. The course also delves into how immigrants navigate racial hierarchies – sometimes successfully and sometimes not – across a variety of spaces, including education, the workplace, cultural discourse, and more. Attention will be given to various groups, including Asian Americans, Latinxs, and others. Students will have research and writing assessments.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professors del Moral and Dhingra.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 200, EDST 200, and SOCI 200) Disproportionate numbers of students of color drop out or disengage from schools in America each year. Responding to the framework of “drop out,” critical educational scholars have argued that many school practices, policies, and cultures “push out” already marginalized students, or at the very least, do not take sufficient steps to create an inclusive culture that supports all students’ participation and sense of belonging. This course examines the ways in which race and racism influence political, social, cultural, and institutional belonging. This interdisciplinary course will draw on theory and research from the fields of education, sociology, and ethnic studies to examine the conditions of schooling that prompt students’ formal and less formal forms of school disengagement. We will explore how educational institutions, educators, and their community partners support students’ access to and engagement with education. We will examine educational reform practices that strive to cultivate a culture of belonging and community in schools. In particular, we will examine programs and schools that forefront anti-racist education, community engagement, student participation, critical multicultural education, and restorative justice.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Luschen.Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2023
(Offered as AMST 201 and EDST 201) The goal of this course is to explain how our daily, social environment in the United States is constructed and shapes our lives. We will address such questions as why some succeed at school while others fail; what effect culture has on our behavior; why there are class, gender, and racial inequalities; how socialization takes place; and what role politics plays in our society. This course introduces students to these and other sociological topics as well as to dominant theories and methods used to make sense of such social phenomena. Students are encouraged to bring their own insights to class as we challenge common assumptions of these major issues that refer to all of us.
Limited to 18 students. January term. Professor Dhingra.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 203, EDST 203, and SOCI 203) What do we understand about schools, teachers, and students through our engagement with popular culture? How do we interrogate youth clothing as a site of cultural expression and school-based control? How do race, class, and gender shape how youth make sense of and navigate cultural events such as the prom? Contemporary educational debates often position schools and popular culture as oppositional and as vying for youth's allegiance. Yet schools and popular culture overlap as educational sites in the lives of youth. In this course, we will employ feminist, critical race, and cultural studies perspectives to analyze representations of schooling and youth in popular culture. By doing so, we will consider the historically shifting meaning of youth, interrogate an oppositional stance to school and popular culture, and examine relationships of power and representation in educational sites. Readings, class discussions, and frequent film screenings will support our examination.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Luschen.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 204 and SOCI 202) How do race, immigration, and the state not only shape people’s access to resources but also delimit who belongs to the nation, self-conceptions, and personal relationships? How can ethnic minorities at times be “out-whiting whites” but still be denied full citizenship by the state? What does it mean to grow up within a culture but never fully identify with it? We will answer these questions and more by examining Asian Americans' efforts for belonging and social justice as full members of the United States. Substantive topics include how race, gender, sexuality, and class intersect to influence life chances; immigration laws and trends; how people form ethnic and racial identities while becoming “good Americans”; educational experiences of youth and so-called “Tiger parents”; how family and relationship formations are shaped by race and immigration; media portrayals; inter-minority solidarities and tensions.
Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Dhingra.2023-24: Not offered
Why were media and fans so surprised by NBA player Jeremy Lin's success? Asians have proven their athletic prowess well before Lin picked up a basketball. Similarly, why do observers of American football explain Pacific Islanders’ overrepresentation in college and professional football in terms of innate physical traits? Colonial expansion across the Pacific spread American economic and cultural influence, transforming native sporting practices and spurring a transnational flow of athletes, fans, and their communities. This dynamic explains, in part, the prominent role of Pacific Islanders in today’s NFL. Yet, significant societal barriers have limited the opportunities and visibility of Asian Pacific Americans in sport. In this course, we will study the diffusion of Western sports in Asia and across the Pacific, the development of Asian Pacific American sports in Hawai’i and the mainland, and the increasing transnational nature of sports to gain a greater appreciation for Asian Pacific American sports and its historical contexts. Students will conduct research on a related topic of their choice.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hayashi.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 215 and SOCI 215) The course is an interdisciplinary, historically organized study of American perceptions of and attitudes towards the human body in a variety of media, ranging from medical and legal documents to poetry and novels, the visual arts, film, and dance. Among the topics to be discussed are the physical performance of gender; the social construction of the ideal male and female body; health reform movements; athletic achievement as an instrumentalization of the body; commercialization of physical beauty in the fitness and fashion industries; eating disorders as cultural phenomena; the interminable abortion controversy; the equally interminable conflict over pornography and the limits of free speech; and adaptations to the possibility of serious illness and to the certainty of death. Class will meet via Zoom.
Limited to 18 students per section. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Couvares and Lecturer Bergoffen.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 216 and BLST 240 [CLA/US]) Who is an “Afro-Latino”? Are they Latinos or are they Black? Afro-Latinos are African-descended peoples from Latin America and the Caribbean who reside in the United States. In this course, a focus on Afro-Latinos allows us to study the history of racial ideologies and racial formation in the Americas.
We take a multi-layered approach to the study of modern Afro-Latino history (late nineteenth century to the twentieth century). First, the history of Afro-Latinos has been shaped by the historical relationship between race and nation in Latin America. Therefore, we look closely at the varied histories of African-descended peoples in Latin American countries. Second, the historical relationship between the United States and Latin America has shaped the experience of Afro-Latinos who reside in the U.S. The long history of U.S. economic dominance and military interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean generated an equally long history of Latin American migration to the U.S. In the twentieth century black migrants came from nations that promoted myths of racial democracy to a nation that practiced racial segregation and violence. Afro-Latino migrants experienced racial segregation and violence in the U.S. in ways similar to but different than other Latinos and African Americans. Therefore, third, we examine the history of Afro-Latinos in relation to Latinos in the U.S. The history of Latinos is at the core of U.S. continental expansion, labor practices, and exclusionary citizenship. The category “Latino” has also been shaped by racial hierarchies. The relatively new category of “Afro-Latino” allows us to examine a history that has been silenced within the broader categories of “Latino” or “African American.”
In this course, we examine how Afro-Latinos maneuvered between different racial contexts in Latin American nations and the United States. It is a history that highlights the competing and conflicting racial ideologies that have shaped the Americas.
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor del Moral.2023-24: Not offered
[Pre-1900] The United States has inscribed the separation of church and state into its constitutional order, and yet Americans have for two centuries been more deeply committed to religious faith and practice than any other people in the Western world. This course endeavors to explore that paradox. Topics addressed include the changing meanings of "the city on a hill"; the varieties of millennial belief and utopian community; the relationship between religion, ethnicity, and gender; religious political activism, including abolition, prohibition, anti-war and anti-abortion movements; and the limits of religious tolerance from movements against Catholics and Mormons to recent warnings of a "clash of civilizations" with Muslim cultures.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professors Couvares.Other years: Offered in Fall 2023
This course examines the experiences of women from diverse backgrounds during the Progressive Era (1890-1920). During this period characterized by rapid industrialization, mass immigration, and contested civil rights, women advocated for reforms of all kinds. But they did not always share the same visions of progress. Course units on labor, settlement work, sexual and racial politics, education, and physical culture will put these competing visions in historical context. Who defined the terms and goals of progress? Elite reformers worked for the betterment of society, but in whose interests? And what about the anarchists, who refused to play by the rules? Primary course materials will include periodical literature, pamphlets, political tracts, and works of literature. We will also examine historical writing, visual art, and archival material in the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History at Smith College.
Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Lecturer Bergoffen.Other years: Offered in Fall 2023
This course investigates the practice and ideal of community in America both on a national and a local level, asking students to develop concrete strategies for strengthening the public sphere and fostering community life. We will consider the nature and limits of democracy, the meaning of belonging, the experience of stigma and exclusion, the concepts of civic responsibility and public discourse, and the conflict and compromises inherent in political advocacy. The course will pay particular attention to the struggles of often-marginalized groups to build healthy and just communities. Coursework will include contemporary and historical case studies, literary depictions, and more theoretical readings, as well as a substantial commitment to the observation of civic life at the local level. We will attend: school committee meetings, community organizing strategy sessions, select board meetings, board meetings of local nonprofit organizations and community gatherings. We will bring what we learn from these sessions into our classroom discussions of how to build socially just communities at the local level. Each of you will develop a personal action plan for how you plan to be an active citizen in the near and the long term of your life.
Limited to 20 students. January Term. Lecturer Mead.Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022, Spring 2023
From the advertising copy and backdrop of truck ads to the democratic rhetoric of politicians, the West as a place of national mythology still permeates American culture. In this course, we will analyze the evolution of the West as a prominent site of American myth and the contemporary representations of it in literature and film, the Neo-Westerns. Students will read works by authors such as Annie Proulx, Cormac McCarthy, Sherman Alexi, and Percival Everett, as well as view recent popular films by Ang Lee, Clint Eastwood, and John Sayles. The course will also include readings in history, as well as other disciplines, to contextualize the creative works and to gauge how the myth of the West compares to its reality and how truly revisionist its most current representations are.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hayashi.Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2019, Spring 2020
In 2015 the Pew Research Center identified mixed-race Americans as “the cutting edge of social and demographic change in the US.” Prior to that, revisions to the United States Census in 2000 enabled the checking of multiple identity boxes, increasing the visibility of mixed-race people. Despite this recent recognition, the fact of mixed-race peoples in the Americas is nothing new. Since the Colonial period, laws governing citizenship, marriage and rights prohibited or punished miscegenation; yet, mixed-race people proliferated. Representations of and designations for racial mixing focused on negative conceptions of blood and degeneracy. In more recent decades, mixed-race people have claimed their hybridity, renamed themselves, and even declared their own “Bill of Rights.” Using an interdisciplinary approach, the course will examine mixed-race identity through a range of materials: legal cases, history, ethnography, visual art, literature, and critical theory. The course will also include material on transnational, transracial adoptions, and the mixed-race households they engender.
Limited to 20 students per section. Spring semester. Professor Hayashi and Lecturer Bergoffen.
(Offered as AMST 240 [Pre-1900] and SWAG 243) From Longfellow’s Hiawatha and D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature to Disney’s Pocahontas and more recently Moana to James Cameron’s Avatar, representations of the Indigenous as “Other” have greatly shaped cultural production in America as vehicles for defining the nation and the self. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad field of Native American and Indigenous Studies, by engaging a range of texts from law to policy to history and literature as well as music and aesthetics. Film will also provide grounding for our inquiries. By keeping popular culture, representation, and the nature of historical narratives in mind, we will consider the often mutually constitutive relationship between American identity and Indian identity as we pose the following questions: How have imaginings of a national space and national culture by Americans been shaped by a history marked by conquest and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples? And, how have the myths of conquest become a part of education and popular representations to mask settler colonial policies and practices that seek to “erase in order to replace” the Native? This course also considers how categories like race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion have defined identities and changed over time with particular regards to specific Native American individuals and tribal nations. Students will be able to design their own final research project. It may focus on either a historically contingent or contemporary issue related to Native American people in the United States that is driven by a researchable question based on working with an Indigenous author’s writings from the Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg (or KWE for short) collection of Native American Literature books in the archives of Amherst College.
Omitted 2021-22. Professor Vigil.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2023
In recent years, Indigenous acts of resistance have opposed the removal of federal protections for forests and waterways in Indigenous lands, halted the construction of oil pipelines, and demanded justice for murdered and missing Indigenous women. These anti-colonial struggles have their roots in Native communities and epistemologies. This course introduces students to critical theories for understanding Native responses to settler-colonialism, as “a structure, not an event,” through close examination of texts produced by a range of Native scholars and activists. Reading work by Jodi Byrd (Chickasaw), Audra Simpson (Mohawk), Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg), and others, we will interrogate how the colonial state has developed in the United States and Canada and the diverse strategies used by Native nations to respond to this development. We’ll consider how Hawaiian movements for life, land, and sovereignty arose from grassroots initiatives and the ways that scholars, community organizers, journalists, and filmmakers have contributed to a Native Hawaiian resistance movement. We’ll also examine the ways in which gender is inextricably a part of Indigenous politics by looking at work by scholars who use both literary and legal texts to analyze the production of colonial space, the biopolitics of “Indianness,” and the collisions and collusions between queer theory and colonialism within Indigenous studies. This course focuses on Native voices and theories to question and reframe thinking about Native epistemologies, nationhood, citizenship, history, identity, belonging and the possibilities for a decolonial future. Classwork will involve seminar-style discussion, often facilitated by student leaders, to further unpack course readings, supplemental materials, and relevant current events. Students will produce short response papers that culminate in a final project which can take any form, including a performance, website, multimedia or other type of creative composition intended to reach a public audience.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Vigil.2023-24: Not offered
This is a research-based course where students will work collaboratively to develop materials for a digital archive to complement the professor’s book, Settler Science and the Genomic Quest for Indigeneity. Part of the book project has been to develop a dynamic, complementary archive: a standalone, permanent but modifiable site including various multimedia components (e.g., film clips, images, maps), documents (e.g., historical, legal, and scientific publications), and links to key online sites that can be used by teachers, students, and others in conjunction with the published book. Students will design components for and test the archive as a pedagogical tool. In particular, students will work directly with some of the book manuscript as well as research materials collected during summer research trips in order to create new content for the archive. The course will introduce students to the fields of feminist science and technology studies (FSTS), Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS), and settler colonial studies. Students will explore key legal histories of Native North America, genealogies of racial science and the development of modern genomics, and questions related to Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in order to contextualize the genomic quest for indigeneity.
Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST-249 and SOCI-249) The goal of the course is to interrogate key social inequalities in the United States and the organizations that try to alleviate them. We will go beyond the rhetoric surrounding relevant issues and investigate them from the ground-up through texts written by scholars and public intellectuals. We also will recognize social service organizations in terms of their effectiveness as well as consider critiques of them in terms of their abilities to create social change. In addition, students are expected to participate in a local organization, whether in the cultural or service sphere. Students will get a deeper appreciation of how organizations conceive of and try to address social inequalities than coursework alone can provide.
Limited to 16 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Dhingra.2023-24: Not offered
Education Studies is an interdisciplinary field that provides a context for students to critically examine the history, purpose, politics, and consequences of education from a range of perspectives. This course will introduce students to faculty engaged in research related to education in various departments at Amherst College and in the Five College Consortium. Students will consider the questions that frame scholars’ inquiry within and across disciplinary borders. Together we will examine the assumptions that frame different approaches to educational research and the various methods that scholars utilize to create knowledge about education. We will hear from scholars about their experiences navigating complex relationships between themselves, the issues central to their research, and the texts or communities with which they engage. Across the semester, students will develop an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of Education Studies, the questions that frame the development of knowledge in the field, and the resources available on campus and in the Five College Consortium.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Luschen.2023-24: Not offered
This course offers an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of Native American and Indigenous Studies. In his powerful collection of essays by the same title, Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche) proclaims to his readers that “everything you know about Indians is wrong.” In this course, we will consider Paul Chaat Smith’s claim and trace how it came to be. We will examine history, literature, art, politics, and current events to explore the issues that Indigenous peoples face today and their deep and complex historical roots. We will pay particular attention to the creative ways that indigenous communities have remained vibrant in the face of ongoing colonial struggle. This course will focus on the United States with some consideration of the broader transnational American context. Topics include histories of Indigenous-settler relations, US Indian Law and Indigenous sovereignties, Indigenous ecological knowledge practices, Indigenous philosophical and literary traditions, and Indigenous activism.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Smith.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 280 and ENGL 273) In Penobscot author Joseph Nicolar's 1893 narrative, the Corn Mother proclaims, "I am young in age and I am tender, yet my strength is great and I shall be felt all over the world, because I owe my existence to the beautiful plant of the earth." In contrast, according to one Iowa farmer, from the 2007 documentary "King Corn," "We aren't growing quality. We're growing crap." This course aims to unpack depictions like these in order to probe the ways that corn has changed in its significance within the Americas. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, students will be introduced to critical theories and methodologies from American Studies as they study corn's shifting role, across distinct times and places, as a nourishing provider, cultural transformer, commodity, icon, and symbol.
Beginning with the earliest travels of corn and her stories in the Americas, students will learn about the rich histories, traditions, narratives, and uses of "maize" from indigenous communities and nations, as well as its subsequent proliferation and adaptation throughout the world. In addition to literary and historical sources students will engage with a wide variety of texts (from material culture to popular entertainment, public policy and genetics) in order to deepen their understanding of cultural, political, environmental, and economic changes that have characterized life in the Americas.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professors Brooks and Vigil.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 296, BLST 296 [D] and SWAG 296). This course explores the transnational politics of race, gender, sexuality, and health from interdisciplinary perspectives. It engages a range of texts and methodologies that locate the historical and contemporary experiences of Afro-diasporic women and girls in the struggle for embodied freedom, autonomy, and reproductive justice. We will draw on examples from Africa and the African diaspora (U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America) as we engage the main debates in reproductive justice around key issues: sexual and reproductive health and rights; HIV/AIDS; sexual autonomy and choice; sterilization; police brutality; the right to bear children; abortion. The course will also introduce students to theories about health and illness, embodiment and subjectivity, critical race theory, ethnography, black feminist theory, and postcolonial health science studies. Class field trips to reproductive justice organizations will also provide an experiential component that grounds our inquiries.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 301, ARCH 261 and BLST 301) How might the built environment impact how we perceive, understand, and experience race? How has the built environment been used to confine, segregate, and choreograph racialized bodies? This course will examine the different ways architecture and design have lent themselves to processes of racialization, from embodied experiences of race within the built environment to racialized representations of architectural structures. The focus of this class will be architecture’s relationship to race, but what falls under the term architecture will be expansive, including objects and rhetoric from urban planning, geography, real estate, and design studies. Similarly, this course will attend to race in an expansive way—namely, as it is complicated and structured by gender, wealth inequality, and sexuality. This course’s approach to architecture and race is interdisciplinary at the level of course readings and assignments. Course readings will span the humanities and also include artistic and architectural projects. Three main goals of this course are to (1) identify how the built environment has been used historically to create, mark, and represent race; (2) deploy key theories of race to assess how racialization occurs through built objects and the process of design; and (3) reflect on our own racialized experiences within the built environment.
Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22 Visiting Lecturer Sandoval.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 305, SOCI 305 and SWAG 305) In this course we draw from sociology, anthropology, and geography to explore the gendered dynamics and experiences of Latino migration to the United States. We begin by situating gendered patterns of migration in the context of contemporary globalization and relating them to social constructions of gender. Next we look at experiences of settlement, analyzing the role of women’s and men’s networks in the process of migration, especially in terms of employment and survival strategies. We also analyze how specific contexts of reception influence the gender experience of settlement. For example, how does migration to rural areas differ from migration to traditional urban migration hubs, and how does gender influence that difference? We then look at Latino family formation, paying special attention to the experiences of transnational mothers and fathers, those who have left children behind in their home countries in the process of migration. Finally, we explore the relationship between migration and sexuality.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schmalzbauer.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 308, SOCI 308 and SWAG-308) The relationship between girls’ empowerment and education has been and continues to be a key feminist issue. For instance, second wave liberal feminist approaches sought to make schools more equitable through equal access to educational resources for girls and the elimination of gender discrimination. Yet the relationship between gender and schooling remains a complex site of research and policy.
In this course we will examine how various feminist perspectives have defined and addressed the existence of gender inequality in American schools. We will begin by examining theories that address the production of gendered experiences within the context of U.S. schools and classrooms. Utilizing an intersectional approach, we will explore how the production of gender identities in educational contexts is shaped by the realities of our race, class, ethnic, and sexual identities. We will draw on empirical research and theory to analyze pedagogies, policies, and programs that have been developed to address gender inequality and schooling, including those that address fluid notions of gender. Students will complete the course with a complex view of feminism and an understanding of how feminist approaches have shaped the debates within gender and educational reform.
Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Luschen.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 326 and SOCI 326) This course focuses on Latino immigrant youth and the children of Latino immigrants who are coming of age in the contemporary United States, what social scientists have termed the “new second generation.” Currently this generation is the fastest-growing demographic of children under 18 years of age. The majority of youth in the “new second generation” are Latino.
Drawing on sociological and anthropological texts, fiction, and memoir, we will explore the social factors, historical legacies, and policies that in large part shape the lived experiences of Latino youth. We begin by laying a historical and theoretical base for the course, exploring the notions of assimilation and transnationalism. We then move into an exploration of the intersecting contexts of inequality which contextualize daily life for the new second generation. Specifically we investigate how social class, race, gender, and “illegality” intersect with generation to shape the struggles, opportunities, identities and aspirations of Latino youth.
Requisite: Previous course(s) in SOCI, ANTH, AMST, BLST or LLAS. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schmalzbauer.2023-24: Not offered
This course examines the construction of Asian American identity from the late 1800s to the present day by examining literary texts and legal texts and how they have shaped definitions of distinct Asian ethnicities and panethnic identities. We will explore how Asians in America have been defined in the law and literary arts and how work in these distinct spheres of American life—law and literature—have been in conversation. We will focus on such issues as immigration, citizenship, and civil rights and their relation to Asian American identity. Readings will include fiction, drama, poetry, literary criticism, legal cases, legal codes and statutes, legal studies and history, and ethnic studies. Coursework will include essays, oral presentations, and a research project.
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hayashi.2023-24: Not offered
This course is a workshop-format class designed for students interested in creative nonfiction writing projects that entail significant original research. The first part of the course will involve reading, analyzing and discussing recently published works of creative nonfiction and discussing research methodology. The rest of the semester will be devoted to students researching, drafting, and discussing their projects in workshop.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Students will be asked to submit a 5-10 page writing sample. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hayashi.2023-24: Not offered
Americans increasingly debate their monuments, movies, and institutions: the histories they present and how they narrate the past. In this course, we will examine how individuals, organizations, and groups in the United States have recorded and recounted violent histories: Armenian Genocide, Japanese-American Incarceration, Vietnam, The LA Riots/ Insurrection/Sa-I-Gu, and 9/11. We will explore the tensions between individual and collective memories, and the role of memory in shaping national identity. We will also consider the material and ethical challenges of memorializing trauma, as well as the relation between narrative, identity, and place. The course is highly interdisciplinary and includes readings in history, museum studies, literary theory, and critical race studies. We will closely engage a range of primary materials including photographs, memoir, film, poetry, and archival materials. Class meetings include group discussions, lectures, training sessions, and outside speaker visits. Throughout the semester, we will also consider how these historical events impacted the Amherst College community. Course members will design and contribute to a public history project documenting and interpreting the Amherst Uprising of 2015, a student led social protest that further illuminates the challenges of narrating and remembering historical events.
Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hayashi.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 345, EDUST 345 and SOCI 345) The United States has long struggled with challenges created by the need to absorb ethnic and racial minorities. In the face of seemingly intractable problems, one solution has been to designate a “model minority,” which then appears to divert attention from the society at large. Earlier in the twentieth century, Jewish Americans played this role; today, Asian Americans are the focus. This course examines specific instances in which Jewish Americans and Asian Americans both embraced and rejected the model minority stereotype. Course units will also examine the underside of the model minority stereotype, quotas imposed to limit access to education and employment as well as social and legal actions taken in response to such restrictions. The course will feature a range of materials, including plays, fiction, journalism, and visual works. Students will read scholarship in the fields of American Studies, Sociology, History, and Critical Race Studies. The course will include a number of guest speakers.
Fall semester. Limited to 15 students. McCloy Visiting Professor Odo and Senior Lecturer Bergoffen.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 361, BLST 361, and ENGL 276) Through a close reading of texts by African American authors, we will critically examine literary form and technique alongside the representation of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Coupled with our explication of poems, short stories, novels, and literary criticism, we will explore the stakes of adaptation in visual culture. Students will analyze the film and television adaptations of twentieth-century fiction. Authors will include Toni Morrison, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker, and Gloria Naylor. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.
Limited to 18 students. Priority given to those students who attend the first day of the class. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2023
(Offered as AMST 368, BLST 368 and ENGL 368) History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering African American women alongside assertive male protagonists and savants. This course provides an alternative narrative to this representation by exploring the ways in which African American female characters, writers, and artists have challenged ideals of stoicism and submission. Using an interdisciplinary focus, we will critically examine transgression across time and space in diverse twentieth- and early twenty-first century literary, sonic, and visual texts. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.
Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Priority given to students who attend the first day of class. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021
(Offered as SWAG 372 and AMST 370) This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of Indigenous feminisms, and explores how questions of sex, gender, and sexuality have been articulated in relation to concerns such as sovereignty, colonization, and imperialism. We will explore how Indigenous feminists engage with or challenge other modes of feminist thought and activism. We will focus on how Indigenous ways of knowing and being can challenge how we conduct research and produce knowledge. While we will concentrate on work produced within the context of Native North America, we will also be attentive to transnational dimensions of Indigenous feminist histories, political movements, and world-building. Specific topics include movements to recognize missing and murdered Indigenous women; Indigenous feminist science and technology studies; and, Indigenous futurisms.
This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.
Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.2023-24: Not offered
This seminar examines six major events that fundamentally impacted the history of Asians in the United States. Several of them involved egregious actions by the US government that prompted official apologies from later administrations, the only such cases in American history: the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893, and the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans in 1942. The others include Asian Americans and the Cold War, the Asian American Movement of the 1960s and 70s, and the Model Minority Paradigm, 1960s to the Present. Throughout, we examine the ways in which memory is made or obscured and the ways in which public history institutions, especially the important national agencies, including the Smithsonian, the National Park Service, Library of Congress, and the National Archives along with documentaries, historic landmarks, and websites, have played a role in public understandings of the events included in this course.
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. McCloy Visiting Professor Odo.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 374 and HIST 374 [US]) In the largest incidence of forced removal in American history, the U.S. incarcerated 120,000 people of Japanese descent during WWII, two-thirds of whom were American citizens. Preceded by half a century of organized racism, the attack on Pearl Harbor provided justification for imprisonment of an entire ethnic group solely on the basis of affiliation by “blood.” At the same time, Japanese Americans served in the U.S. military with extraordinary distinction, earning recognition in the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe as the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in American military history. Thousands more served in the Military Intelligence Service using their knowledge of the Japanese language as a “secret weapon” against the Japanese Empire. We will examine the historical background leading to these events and Japanese American resistance to official actions including the cases of Yasui, Hirabayashi, Korematsu, and Endo which reached the U.S. Supreme Court. We will also explore the imposition of the draft upon men behind barbed wire and those who became draft resisters. We will also trace the post-war rise of movements to gain redress, successful with President Reagan’s signing of HR 442 in 1988, and the extraordinary rise of memorials and museums commemorating incarceration and memory-making.
Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. McCloy Visiting Professor Odo.2023-24: Not offered
Independent reading course.
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
This course is designed to provide American Studies majors, as well as Education Studies majors and others, with a methodological grounding to conduct interdisciplinary research. Students will have the opportunity to conduct research on a topic of their own choosing and develop a research prospectus. Students will be exposed to and experiment with a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches, gain familiarity with methods such as participant observation, interview and oral history practice, and study a range of materials—visual, literary, print, digital, audio—via a traditionally interdisciplinary American Studies praxis. Students will gauge the utility of various theoretical and methodological approaches to determine which are most useful for their own independent work. A major requirement of this course is participation in a "work-in-progress" presentation as part of a public mini-conference at the end of the semester.
Limited to 18 students. Open to juniors and seniors as a research seminar; or with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Sanchez-Eppler and Visiting Professor Luschen.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2023
A one-semester project—either a shorter essay or some other form of independent interdisciplinary research and production. The capstone project serves as the grounds for a comprehensive evaluation of each student's achievement in the major.
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Spring semester. The Department.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023